Pro Woodworking Tips.com
European Cabinet System
European Cabinet System - part
True European cabinets are generally referred to as the 32mm system, as many aspects of it
are based on that measurement, as a standard.
European cabinets are typically made from Melamine. As the adhesive
used in forming Melamine, is Formaldehyde base, all edges must be sealed. This could be a simple spraying of a
sealer coat of lacquer or similar product, where the edges are hidden.
This material can be difficult to work with for most home, or even small cabinet shops. The product
is made up of particle board, with a liquid coating, which is hardened. It is quite heavy. The sheets are
available in several thickness, and configurations. There are several standard colors to choose from, and it is
available with the coating on one side only, and a gluable surface on the other. This is to allow for laminating
the show side with plastic laminate or veneer.
As we purchase the product from a wholesale supplier, the brittle coating often extends beyond the
edges of the particle board, and is very sharp. Handling this without gloves, is a recipe for disaster. (unless
you like getting cut). I have no idea why it's shipped like that. The first step in dealing with these sheets,
is to remove these protrusions. A laminate trimmer will remove them quite effectively, or you could use a rasp,
or hand plane. I wouldn't recommend using a good plane for this though. These sheets measure 49" x 97" to allow
for trimming. Many other sizes are available.
One of the disadvantages in using this product is it tends to chip, while being cut. A European
table saw is equipped with a scoring blade, which is located just in front of the main blade. It is smaller in
diameter, and spins in the opposite direction of the main blade. These saws typically have a sliding table on
them to facilitate moving the heavy sheets through the saw very accurately, with no chips. The bad new is these
saws are roughly ten thousand and up.
Over the years, American cabinet makers have come up with many ways to get around this problem,
without investing in one of the expensive saws. Probably the most common method has been to cut all the pieces 1/8"
oversized, and then either rout or joint the edges on the jointer. We have on occasion set up the shaper to take 1/
16" off all edges. This does add considerable work to the process.
Another method was to cut part way through the sheet, in essence, scoring the bottom surface, and
then raising the blade and running the pieces through to complete the cut. I have never opted for this method, as I
don't have that kind of patience.
Fortunately, Forrest Blades has come to the rescue, once again. Their Duraline Hi AT blade will cut
these sheets, virtually chip free, on both sides. This is the same blade we use to cut furniture grade plywood,
and again there are no chips on either side of the plywood.
Written by: Lee A. Jesberger © 2006 -
Inventor of: Ezee-Feed Systems ®
Making Kitchen Cabinets
Watching Paul Levine will convince you that creating a
beautiful kitchen is as easy as building one simple cabinet several times over...
Making Kitchen Cabinets
Return to Cabinet Making Tips
Return to home page